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HPAT or GAMSAT? which route is harder? which route is easier?

Medicine entry via GAMSAT or HPAT? what’s the difference?

It’s a question anyone wanting to gain entry into medicine will inevitably ask: ‘Am I better off sitting the HPAT and doing an undergraduate medicine degree, or should I sit the GAMSAT to gain entry into a graduate medicine course?’

To make things easier, below is a comparative summary of some of the key elements of both the GAMSAT (graduate entry pathway) and the HPAT (undergraduate entry pathway) so you can make up your own mind.

Health Professions Admissions Test

Graduate Medical School Admissions Test

What is the HPAT?

HPAT is the Health Professions Admissions Test. HPAT is one of two criteria (HPAT and Leaving Certificate) used by most universities in selecting students into high demand health related careers such as medicine and dentistry. Without satisfactory completion of HPAT you will be ineligible for these undergraduate medicine and health science courses.

What is the HPAT structure?

total test duration: 2.5 hours
test type: multiple choice
essay questions: none
assumed knowledge: none.


There are 110 multiple choice questions that come from 3 different ‘constructs’ i.e sections:

  • section one: logical reasoning and problem solving
  • section two: understanding people
  • section three: non-verbal reasoning

When do I sit the HPAT?

You can only sit the HPAT in your final year of secondary schooling, or higher.
Students who are currently in 5th year or lower are NOT eligible to take HPAT even if they are undertaking one or more 6th year subjects.

How does HPAT help me gain entry into medicine?

Gaining into an undergraduate medical degree entails two, usually equally weighted criteria:

  • Leaving certificate score and;
  • HPAT score (Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admissions Test) 

What is the GAMSAT?

GAMSAT is the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test. The GAMSAT is a test used to select candidates applying to study medicine and other health science courses at Irish universities that offer grauduate-entry programmes.                                                                                                                                                                                                      .

What is the GAMSAT structure?

total test duration: 6.5 hours
test type: multiple choice and extended written response
essay questions: yes
assumed knowledge: yes.

The three sections of the GAMSAT are:

  • section one: reasoning in humanities and social sciences (this requires essay writing)
  • section two: written communication(this also requires essay writing)
  • section three: reasoning in biological and physical sciences. (this section does assume a certain level of knowledge)

When do I sit the GAMSAT?

GAMSAT is available to any student who has completed a Bachelor degree, or who will be in the    penultimate (second-last) or final year of study for a Bachelor degree, at the time of sitting the test.


How does GAMSAT help me gain entry into medicine?

Applicants are selected for admission into the   graduate-entry medical and dental programs on the basis of these three criteria:

  • WAM (weighted average mark) or GPA (grade point average) of bachelor degree and;
  • GAMSAT score.

The universities may differ in their weighting of performance on each of the criteria.


So is the HPAT easier and GAMSAT harder?

Consider these final points:

  • GAMSAT is almost twice the length of HPAT.
  • GAMSAT requires essay writing whereas HPAT does not: It is entirely multiple choice.
  • HPAT has no assumed knowledge (it is an aptitude test) whereas GAMSAT requires specialist knowledge in areas of physics, chemistry, biology etc.

For more information on the HPAT including HPAT preparation and HPAT practice papers please see MedEntry HPAT preparation.


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